Interview with TRENT WILLIAMS
Sydney pop/folk artist TRENT WILLIAMS has just dropped his debut EP “Stories From Our Times”. With his debut track “What Do You Call a Man” picked up by many community radio stations, as well as receiving airplay on Triple J and being featured on Spotify and international music blog, Indie Feed. Amnplify’s Emily Horton recently had a chat with the lovely Trent Williams about his EP.
Emily: Hey Trent, how are you going?
Trent: Good, how are you?
Good thank you. So you’ve just released you EP “Stories From Our Times“, which is very exciting! How long was the process from writing, to recording, to releasing the EP?
Well if you include all the writing of all the songs that I’ve picked out for the EP it has probably been about 5 years, to be honest. So it’s been pretty long.
So it has been a long journey?
Yeah, yeah. The only reason I say that is because one of the songs from there was written about 5 years ago and I didn’t just sort of pick my 5 newest favourite songs that I’d written, I wanted to sort of go back and have a look at what songs really work well together as an EP. So that’s why it goes back so far. So I’ve been writing these songs over a 5 year period, but the actual production and the birth of the record itself has probably been about 12 months.
Yeah wow, so it has been a long exciting journey. Tell me about the title “Stories From Our Times“.
Well the title was the last thing that came about, so everything else was there, the songs were recorded and the artwork was finished…apart from the title of course! And I just couldn’t decide what to call it. I went through the song names in my head a thousand times, and I went through you know themes and what it was about, and I was just listening to one of the songs back, which was “Annie”, and there is a line that says “in sharing pieces of our minds and sharing stories from our times” and it just hadn’t caught my attention before and the more I though about it, the more I thought that each of these tracks was a little individual story that kind of all tied together with a kind of theme. Like they are all retrospective, looking back on specific situations that sort of thing, so as soon as I thought of using that, it just stuck! And it just to happened to be a line from one of the songs which tied it in really well.
Speaking of the song “Annie”, I’m not going to lie when I first heard it, it gave me goose bumps. It’s one of those really raw powerful songs.
Well, thank you!
And it is inspired by Bob Dylan, can you tell me a bit more about that?
Yeah, yeah. So I love telling the story behind this song and I always tell it a different way because I don’t know the best way to say it is but, there is a Dylan song and it’s called “Annie’s Going to Sing Her Song”.
Yeah I know the one.
Have you heard it?
Yeah I have!
Yeah, cause it’s not like “Knocking on Heavens Door” or anything like that.
No it isn’t one of his more well-know songs.
Maybe it was like a B-side or something, I don’t even know when it was released, but it featured on a record of his, I think it was “Self-portrait”. It was just a song that stood out to me and I was listening to it and I was walking some where, just walking home my regular path and it just stuck out for me. In his song, I imagine it to be he is sitting in a bar and he is watching this kind of you know, hard done by woman get up and sing. She gets up every night and she sings the same song called, “Take Me Back Again” and it’s obviously, lost love. He pretty much gives the impression that he is pretty unimpressed with it, the whole way through the song until the very last verse where he is like, I think it says; “don’t miss the part where I fold up”…I don’t really know what that means, I don’t really know *laughs* but to me I interpreted it as being a bit like well something has you know, affected him inside and all of a sudden he is completely connected with what she is singing. So the first thing I did was to set out to write the song, “Take Me Back Again” that Annie sings, and I did that, then sort of went in a different direction and she was tragically killed by a falling tree…which, when you listen to the song for the first time most people don’t really realise that because it sounds happy. Yeah but in the part of the song it’s reminiscing back on the whole time that they’ve had together. And it generally, like the theme of the song is not something ending or something dying, but rather being appreciative and grateful for what you have had. So it is kinda like better to have loved and lost than to not have loved at all you know that saying. Yeah so that’s kind of where it came from.
Yeah when I first heard it, it was just a really powerful, raw song that, I don’t know, there’s just something about it that really captures you. I had it on repeat after the first time I heard it, I just thought wow this song is really sweet and powerful and I just played it over and over, and when I found out you were releasing your EP last week I definitely wanted to have a chat with you.
Well that’s really nice to hear, and I’m glad that you have heard it.
Well now that I have heard the EP, each song it quite different, it has a different feel about it and a different emotional charge if you know what I mean? So what inspires you and your music?
I think that what you are saying is true, like they are all different. They sort of are, those 5 songs, but that is the kind of reason I picked those 5 songs as well. I wanted to pick 5 songs that were different and sort of showed a range of different things but still within the genre that I write in and following a theme as well. I suppose because I’ve written those songs over such a large period of time, there have been different things that have influenced me along the way. And with each one of the songs I can probably remember where I was at, at that stage and what specifically influenced me, but as far as general things…you know, I love listening to new music I haven’t heard before. I respond really well to music when it is just in the background, like not actually paying much attention to it but I just pick up on little bits and pieces in there, and often I will, it’s almost better if you don’t know the song because then if you try and write something like that song it’s not actually going to sound anything like it. If you just hear a song once and go “oh that was cool” I’ll write a song a bit like that, you just take little bits and pieces that you remember from that and base your song around it…that kind of sounds cheesy a little bit, but I do that a bit and it’s just a way of bringing in different influences and bringing things into your writing that you wouldn’t normally incorporate. I think that might be one of the reasons why there is a fair bit of diversity in there, you know, from the more poppy songs to the rootsy stuff.
Obviously all the songs have your own unique flavour, if that makes sense, but each song is a little bit different and has a different feel I have found.
But in a good way you know?
Yeah I know what you mean, you’re not the first person to have said that as well and, I didn’t realise when I was recording it to be honest, and then afterwards I was like gee there are a few different things going on here, but that is exactly what I wanted to achieve with it.
What Do You Call A Man was released as a single before the EP, and it was really well received. It was picked up by radio stations and Spotify had it on their Indie playlist. How did that feel? It must have been really exciting…
Yeah I didn’t know what to expect, so I didn’t have any preconceived ideas about the way that would go down, because I hadn’t released anything before. So you know, I was sort of toing and froing between how to do it and getting ideas and suggestions from people that had done it before and in the end I just whacked it up on Spotify and SoundCloud and everything, and yeah and I just saw what was going to happen to it. I didn’t really have anyone behind it, I did it completely independently.
That’s quite impressive!
Yeah well I mean I’m not sure what is was but it’s just, people really did like it, it started getting quite a few plays and it got added to the Spotify playlist thing, that was probably the biggest way that track has been exposed to people. You know like when you get added to a playlist and there is already like twenty thousand people following it or something, you’re automatically getting to lots of sets of ears which is pretty amazing to have that tool available.
It’s great that this is happening so early on in your career.
I don’t know if it is one of those things you can manipulate or control, it kind of just happens sometimes and you know you work very hard obviously but sometimes you have little lucky things that happen, and I think that’s one of them.
For those who haven’t yet had the chance to listen to your music, what can they expect from the EP?
Well firstly they can expect the things we’ve already talked about so they can expect a bunch of stories together. I think lyrics are really important, and I think song themes are important too. I never want to focus on the music first, I would rather focus on the lyrics first. So I think if you are listening to it for the first time, I’d probably say go back and listen to it for a second time as well and you know, try to understand the words of it. That is sort of what I, well that is my intention, to write stories to music basically. I would say, yeah, to expect that, but also at the same time, I try to write catchy songs as well that you might remember and might get stuck in your head after a couple of times. That’s my intention anyway. Yeah but some people have made comparisons to maybe Vance Joy and Passenger, even some old country stuff I’ve heard. I think people will hear how they want to hear it. You know some people have said it’s a pop record as well. So people can perceive that as they wish.
Well I found it very unique, I couldn’t personally pinpoint it into any one specific genre. I could feel the roots and the folky aspect, and there’s a little bit of country and a little bit of pop. Yeah your style is really interesting to me. I found it really interesting.
Well that’s good to hear, yeah I normally call it folk/pop because I don’t know, I think that it’s pretty vague but it just about covers it. And that’s what I mean; people will hear it how they want to hear it.
What is next for you now?
So just last week I put the EP out there and I’ve done that independently as well, and so I’m in the process of just planning a couple of shows around on the back of that, so I am hoping to do those in the next couple of months. Also I am continually writing and constantly creating new material so I’ve already got some, well I haven’t decided whether it is going to be an album or EP yet but there’s another release in the pipeline which hopefully in the next 6 months or so I would have started working on, yeah yeah, so just kind of those things. Basically keeping on doing what I’ve been doing.
Very good, that is all very exciting and I can’t wait to hear more. Thank you so much for chatting with me today.
Yeah no problem. Thanks for asking me.
It was really interesting to talk to you, it is always nice talk to the person that you’ve been listening to on the radio and Spotify. Your songs just have this really raw sort of, nice personality and talking to you has been really really nice, Thank you.
Thank you, yeah thanks for the things you said about listening to it and having it on repeat and stuff. It means a lot to hear that.
No worries, thanks for talking to me today.
Thanks for the chat.